The Summer After the Funeral

The Summer After the Funeral

3.61 (84 ratings by Goodreads)
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A rather mysterious old clergyman is dead, and his most adoring child, sixteen-year-old Athene is desolate. A statuesque beauty, greatly admired, she is also lonely, untouchable and living a secret life of fairly dangerous fantasy. Athene's mother, at once highly organised and monumentally vague, dispatches her children to spend the holidays with assorted friends and relatives. For Athene, victim of plans gone awry, that golden summer after the funeral becomes deliciously puzzling fodder for her fantasy. Stuck in a seaside hotel with an inarticulate and beautiful boy, marooned in a seaside cottage with a painter, and finally alone in an empty school with a young master, she finds that men are not all as saintly as her father- and that she is far from saintly more

Product details

  • Paperback | 192 pages
  • 127 x 203 x 11mm | 220g
  • Little, Brown Book Group
  • Abacus
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • black & white illustrations
  • 0349102457
  • 9780349102450
  • 311,102

Review quote

Funny and can't help cheering, enjoying, wanting more. SPECTATOR The pattern of THE SUMMER AFTER THE FUNERAL, like that of an Iris Murdoch satires, is as intricate and delicate as a mazurka... To enjoy the full impact of this marvellously entertaining book one cannot afford to skip a single word. TLS Extraordinary... Mrs Gardam is a writer of original spirit, her observations acute and funny/sad. GUARDIAN Jane Gardam to me is everything that's right about contemporary fiction...there's nothing more difficult than trying to catch a mood and I think she does that to perfection. Margaret Fostershow more

About Jane Gardam

Jane Gardam is the only writer to have been twice awarded the Whitbread Prize for Best Novel of the Year, for The Queen of the Tambourine and The Hollow Land. She also holds a Heywood Hill Literary Prize for a lifetime's contribution to the enjoyment of literature. She is the author of a number of volumes of acclaimed stories including Black Faces, White Faces (David Higham Prize and the Royal Society of Literature's Winifred Holtby Prize); The Pangs of Love (Katherine Mansfield Prize); Going into a Dark House (Silver Pen Award from PEN); Missing the Midnight; and The People on Privilege Hill. Her novels include God on the Rocks, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, Faith Fox, The Flight of the Maidens and the bestselling Old Filth, which was shortlisted for the Orange Prize in 2005. Jane Gardam was born in Yorkshire and now lives in east Kent and the Pennines. She is married with three grown-up children. She was awarded an OBE in January more

Review Text

The latest of Jane Gardam's English heroines are two sisters, twelve and sixteen respectively, left to fend for themselves after the death of their elderly clergyman father and their mother's distracted departure in search of a new home and livelihood. Nearsighted, homely Beams endures her summer stay as the guest of a boisterous, sports-fixated family with a sense of humor, and her report on her childhood failures with school and reading suggests that she has already begun to suspect what brother Seb later confirms - that dear Father's devotion to his daughters' spiritual development may have left them a bit freakish. But while we'd like to spend more of the summer with Beams, her older sister Athene's hyperemotionality and tendency towards hysterical gestures wears on our nerves. Athene flees from a cold welcome at her aunt's summer cottage, flees again from the cabin of a shabby gentleman who takes her in (believing that she may have been raped in her sleep) and runs away a third time from a crush on a distracted, sweetly drab teacher who happens to be acting as holiday caretaker of her brother's deserted school while her aunt, the matron, has gone on vacation. Athene's physical and emotional dislocation is treated elliptically and empathically, with a sure blend of charged sensitivity and comforting middle class English certainties that allows Gardam to build a whole personality around Athene's identification with Emily Bronte. But the conclusion, which brings the scattered family together just at the moment of Athene's greatest crisis, is overly fussy, and scarcely less annoying is the suggestion that Athene's problems can be dismissed as one would overlook the actions of a high-spirited animal, as ultimately a sign of class - "Breakdown my eye, . . . She'll be grand. She'll be grand directly" opines one of the inexplicably present bystanders. And that is apparently that. Athene does show promise of turning into something grand, and though the signs may be a little too obscure for some adolescent readers to divine, Gardam's high spirited epiphanies will reward the more adventurous. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Rating details

84 ratings
3.61 out of 5 stars
5 20% (17)
4 42% (35)
3 23% (19)
2 11% (9)
1 5% (4)
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